H.E. Mrs. Adiyatwidi Adiwoso Asmady
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia
at the High Level Dialogue of the General Assembly
“Inter-religious and Cultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace”
New York, 5 October 2007
Allow me to join others in expressing appreciation to you for convening this “High Level Dialogue on Inter-religious and intercultural understanding and cooperation for peace.” That this event taking place at such a level is indicative of how important you regard it. We share this view also.
Indonesia is convinced that dialogue among nations helps in the cultivation of a culture of peace. This is why Indonesia has always been an enthusiastic support of Dialogue among Civilization as a way of bringing the peoples of the world closer together. We see dialogue as an essential tool for building bridges between faiths and cultures. At the grassroots, it is an effective tool for peace if it is carried out intensively and extensively.
Since tension and conflict may arise not only between those who profess different religions but also between factions within the same religions, intra-faith dialogue should also be encouraged in order to foster among those who profess the same religion.
Indonesia is committed to promoting inter-religious and intercultural understanding cooperation. We have a centuries old tradition of dialogue called musyawarah, meaning consultation, and mufakat, which stands for consensus. The practice of consultation and consensus-seeking has been our way of dealing with pluralism, bringing it to the benefit of everyone. That is how we have sustained our cultural diversity without sacrificing national unity.
As a result of this outlook, and in a country of great diversity and size, we see diversity as a blessing, not a disadvantage. Although it is capable of leading to misunderstanding and tension, we are able to take advantage of those traditional tools as well as modern ones.
One of such modern tools is education, which is essential in promoting harmony in diversity. A good education teaches children of unity and common threads. It emphasizes that differences in theology and cultural tradition do not make anyone inferior or preclude people from living and working together in peace.
That is why the Ministry for Religion in Indonesia is conducting courses for teachers in Islamic boarding schools on the subject on religious and cultural diversity. The objective is to teach how to foster an open-minded view of pluralism in the country. We want to stress the consciousness that diversity should be embraced and celebrated.
Indonesia’s dialogue on this issue is also reflected in our regional and inter-regional engagements, such as ASEAN, APEC and ASEM. We are also promoting it on a bilateral basis with countries with different religious and cultural backgrounds.
Furthermore, the government supports the efforts of non-governmental actors working in various areas to promote inter-religious harmony. In recent times, we have had the International Conference of Islamic Scholars, which was sponsored by Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, and the World Peace Forum, which was hosted by Muhammadiyah, the second largest Muslim organization in the country.
We also see the mass media as a partner in this endeavor because it is the daily intermediary between people and ideas. I am glad to say that the mass media in Indonesia is mindful of the need to promote inter-religious and cultural harmony. As a matter of strategy, we are happy to involve them in our efforts to promote dialogue.
We recognize that no matter what is done, society will always have some elements of conflict and tension. This is normal; it is the nature of all human society. Rather than be discouraged, we must continue to work hard to encourage, inspire and promote harmony. The situation calls not for cynicism, but for greater investment of imagination and effort.
As for the way forward, we believe that more efforts should be made at the national level to promote conscious action to create harmony among its communities and undertake appropriate reform. The NGO and media should play important role to bring people of different background closer together.
At the international level, we hope the united nations will institutionalize interfaith and intercultural initiatives and strengthen the role of the relevant agencies on this issues.
We stress the importance of resolving major international disputes, especially where these involve friction between religions and faiths.
It is our hope that this dialogue will not only complement, but also strengthen other initiatives that build bridges of understanding and goodwill, essentially forming a universal web of conversation and cooperation among peoples of different religions and cultural background in the common interest of all mankind.
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations, New York
325 East 38th Street, New York, NY, 10016, USA
Tel: 1.212.972.8333, Fax: 1.212.972.9780 - www.indonesiamission-ny.org